Just when I thought I had exhausted the (decent portions) of the islam section at my local library, I turned the corner, and low and behold, there’s a whole bunch more on the other side of the shelves! I grabbed as many as I could comfortably carry to the office, and now instead of mindlessly staring at the tv, I can shove my nose deep between the pages.
My reading list:
Desperately Seeking Paradise: Journeys of a Sceptical Muslim – I really enjoyed this memoir that read like a romp through the last 40 years of muslim history. The movements Ziauddin Sardar was involved in (FOSIS, the Pre-Murabitun sufi group), the people he met (Anwar Ibrahim, Sheikh Nazim) and the places he traveled (Revolutionary Iran, KSA, Malaysia, Pakistan) made this particularly fascinating for me as someone interested in the diversity of the modern muslim ummah. Also, being married to one of the only ibn Hazm fans I know (actually, now that I think about it, he’s the only ibn Hazm fan I know), it was comforting to know that ibn Hazm is not only of interest to modern day salafis, but that Zia finds him fascinating as well.
My Father’s Notebook – a novel by an Iranian leftist in exile in the Netherlands, it tels the story of a boy and his deaf-mute father from the time of Reza Shah through the Revolution. While not an Islamic novel, Islam does play a role. The Qur’an is quoted throughout, the father is a practicing muslim, and the book begins and ends with the story of the people of the cave. It was an easy read, and there wasn’t anything offensive or anti-islam about it.
The Qur’an: A User’s Guide – Farid Esack’s On Being Muslim was one of the books I picked up when I began to seriously consider Islam. I don’t remember much about it (which isn’t suprising, seeing as how I managed to cram it in while studying for midterms), but I do remember that it soothed many of the doubts and put my mind at ease. I guess I should probably look for it next time I’m at the library.
Anways, I’ve only started reading it this afternoon but already this book is fascinating. In the introduction, Farid divides those with a relationship with the Qur’an into 6 categories: The uncritical lover (ordinary muslims), the scholarly lover (confessional/orthodox/practicing scholars), the critical lover (skeptical, but still muslim scholars), the friend of the lover (participant observers who, while not muslim, still appreciate the beauty of the book and respect muslims’ relationship to it), the voyeur (revisionist scholars) and the polemicist (who seem to be everywhere these days).
While Farid probably falls in the critical lover category, he pledges to present ideas from all perspectives. I enjoyed what I’ve read so far, partially because he references a ton of different scholars of the quran. When I come across these references, I mention the name to the husband and we can have a little chat about them. In particular, just in the first few pages, he mentions two female egyptian scholars, ‘Aishah ‘Abd al-Rahman and Zaynab al-Ghazali al-Hubayli that have gone on my list of people to investigate.
Al-Ghazali on Invocations and Supplications – I can’t tell you how excited I was to find this book. The section on salat in Inner Dimensions of Islamic Worship have been increadibly beneficial to my salat, so I can’t wait to see what benefits await in this section of Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din
The Removal of Cares – I’m a little hesitant to read this, as I’ve heard time and time again that sufi texts are meant to be taught, not mass produced and sold for students to muddle through on their own. I’m saving it for last, and may just return it without reading.